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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 26 February, 2020

Olympic Council of Ireland will defend itself "to the hilt" - acting president

Former president Pat Hickey remains in a Rio hospital following his arrest by Brazilian police on touting charges yesterday.

Arrest over ticket touring at Olympic Games Pat Hickey Source: Yui Mok

THE ACTING PRESIDENT of the Olympic Council of Ireland says the organisation will defend itself “to the hilt” in the wake of Pat Hickey’s arrest by Brazilian police on charges concerning ticket touting.

Hickey was yesterday dramatically arrested from a hotel room in Rio and spent the night in hospital as a precaution due to a pre-existing cardiac condition.

Acting president of the OCI Willie O’Brien, speaking to reporters outside the Samaritano Hospital in Rio, declared that the OCI will be “defending itself to the hilt” regarding the controversy. O’Brien was speaking after visiting Hickey.

“We can’t make any comment while the legal case is going on here.  We will defend ourselves to the hilt. That’s all I can say at the moment,” he said.

Regarding Hickey’s situation in hospital, O’Brien said: “We have very little access to him. That’s all I can tell you for the present.”

Asked if the OCI’s defence would include that of Hickey, O’Brien replied “yeah, exactly”.

71-year-old Hickey is expected to remain in hospital for the next 24 hours. He temporarily stepped down from his position as president yesterday evening.

He is facing charges of facilitating ticket touting, forming a cartel, and illicit marketing. If convicted he could face up to seven years in prison.

The controversy has been rumbling along since the beginning of the Olympic Games on 7 August, when Irish man Kevin Mallon was arrested on suspicion of ticket touting.

Hickey had previously said that there was “no impropriety whatsoever from anyone in the OCI or myself in the dealing of tickets”.

The former OCI president had met twice in tense circumstances with Sports Minister Shane Ross in Rio, with the minister putting pressure on Hickey to allow an independent member to be placed on the OCI’s inquiry into the scandal.

Following Hickey’s arrest yesterday, Brazilian police revealed an email on Hickey’s phone from his legal counsel suggesting that Ross should be “put back into his box”.

Read: What happened when? A timeline of Ireland’s Olympic ticketing scandal

Read: Making headlines: How the world reacted to the arrest of Ireland’s Pat Hickey

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